1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Vizagapatam

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VIZAGAPATAM, a town and district of British India, in the Madras presidency. The town stretches 3 m. along the coast, and has a station on a short branch of the East Coast railway, 484 m. N.E. of Madras. Pop. (1901) 40,892. It lies on a small bay, the south extremity of which is bounded by a promontory known as the Dolphin's Nose, and its northern extremity by the suburb of Waltair. The town or fort, as it is called, is separated from the Dolphin's Nose by a small river, which forms a bar where it enters the sea, but is passable for vessels of 300 tons during spring tides. An English factory was established here early in the 17th century, which was captured by the French in 1757, but shortly afterwards recovered. The town owes much to the munificence of the neighbouring raja of Vizianagram. A water supply has been provided at a cost of £30,000. Waltair is the European quarter. There is a considerable Roman Catholic population and a branch of the London Mission. The exports by sea include manganese ore, rice and sugar. Some weaving is carried on, and there is a specialty of ornamental boxes, &c., carved out of sandalwood, horn, ivory, porcupine quills and silver.

The District of Vizagapatam has an area of 17,222 sq. m., being one of the largest districts in India. It is a picturesque and hilly country, but for the most part unhealthy. The surface is generally undulating, rising towards the interior, and crossed by streams, which are dry except during the rainy season. The main portion is occupied by the Eastern Ghats. The slopes of these mountains are clothed with luxuriant vegetation, amid which rise many tall forest trees, while the bamboo grows profusely in the valleys. The drainage on the east is carried by numerous streams direct to the sea, and that to the west flows into the Godāvari through the Indravati or through the Sabari and Siller rivers. To the west of the range is situated the greater portion of the extensive zamindari of Jāipur, which is for the most part very hilly and jungly. In the extreme north a remarkable mass of hills, called the Nimgiris, rise to a height of 5000 ft. The plain along the Bay of Bengal is a vast sheet of cultivation, green with rice fields and gardens of sugar-cane and tobacco. There are great varieties of climate in the district. Along the coast the air is soft and relaxing, the prevailing winds being south-easterly. The average annual rainfall at Vizagapatam exceeds 40 in. Pop. (1901) 2,933,650, showing an increase of 4.7% in the decade. The principal crops are rice, millets, pulses and oil-seeds, with some sugar-cane, cotton and tobacco The coast portion of the district is traversed throughout by the East Coast railway, opened from Madras to Calcutta in 1904, and a line through the hills from Vizianagram to Raipur in the Central Provinces has been sanctioned. The chief seaports are Bimlipatam and Vizagapatam.

On the dissolution of the Mogul empire Vizagapatam formed part of the territory known as the Northern Circars, which were ceded to the East India Company by treaties in 1763 and 1766. It was long before British authority was established over the hilly tract inland, inhabited by aboriginal tribes, and still administered under a peculiar system, which vests in the collector the powers of a political agent. This tract, forming more than two-thirds of the whole district, is known as the Agency.

See The Vizagapatam Dislrici Gazetteer (Madras, 1907).